MetalTitans had the opportunity to speak with fellow Canadian metallers, Celestial Ruin, a hard rock female fronted band that combines heavy rock along with catchy riffs, singable melodies. The combination is “epic” all around. Check out our exclusive with Larissa and Mike below:
Interview By: Metal Mom
1. Tell us how the name of the band came about “Celestial Ruin”?
LARISSA: Adam actually created the name several years before the band was actually formed. The original concept for the band was kind of a “Beauty and the Beast”, Heavenly destruction sort of image.
2. Who was the first to start the band, and when?
LARISSA: Adam had a love for female fronted European Symphonic Metal and realized Canada had no scene like that. He had been thinking about it for years. He spent several years looking for a vocalist as he had a very specific vision of what he wanted. In 2011 a friend of his who ran an Indie Record label in Calgary saw a video of me singing karaoke on YouTube at a local Vancouver bar. He set up the initial meeting where I auditioned. We met at the same karaoke bar. I sang 2 songs (Somebody to Love by Queen and Bad Romance by Lady Gaga). At the end of the night Adam asked if I wanted to be part of the project.
3.You have 4 members in the band, how did they all come to be in CR?
Larissa Dawn (vocals) – See my above answer lol.
Mike “Dikk” Dagenais (bass) – Mike came into the picture 3 months after the band formed. He saw an ad on Craigslist about CR looking for a bass player. He set up an audition and then cancelled it! Lol. I was all ready to move on and not give him a second chance but Adam got me to change my mind. Thank God he did!
Thassana (guitars) – Thassana has been with us about 2 years now. After we parted ways with our previous guitar player it took over 6 months to find Thassana. He also responded to a Craigslist Ad. He was living up in the Okanagan at the time. He drove all the way down here to audition! After he landed the job he moved here.
Adam Todd (drums) – Adam created CR. Not much explanation required lol.
4. Who has been a big influence in your music?
LARISSA: In the beginning the main influences of the band were Nightwish, Within Temptation and Evanescence. Very heavy European sound. As the band evolved we are now more into the genres that fit Halestorm, In This Moment and Amaranthe. Definitely still have those symphonic layers though.
Individually I am influenced by many different vocalists. Floor Jansen, Roy Khan, Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, Sebastian Bach, Pink, Lzzy Hale and Maria Brink (Just to name a few lol) there are so many!
MIKE: Personally, I draw inspiration from many different artists and different bands. Its really to hard for me to just name a few.
5. When you put together a song, does everyone have some input into it, or just one person?
LARISSA: I write all the lyrics and vocal melodies. For the first 2 albums (The Awakening and Pandora) we all sat in a room and wrote together. It usually started with a guitar or piano riff. I would listen to it and see if I felt a connection to the music. If I did we would continue to develop the song.
For the newest songs (First new single; HEART SHAPED ASHES) we did things a bit differently. Thassana was a music producer in Thailand so he has a lot of awesome equipment to program music. He would send me song new riffs and if I would write the lyrics if I liked the direction it was going. We would then record them using his programs. These tracks were then sent to our producer Mike Plotnikoff (Halestorm, The Cranberries, In Flames) in LA to consider for the next music we were recording.
We are now continuing to write new music again and we are kinda doing a combination of both now lol. We are all writing together again but still using Thassana’s programs to ensure we get the best demos possible.
6. Is Celestial Ruin the first band you have been in?
LARISSA: Yes. I involved in musical theatre/acting before I joined CR.
MIKE: No. My first professional band was Typhoid Mary and we played hard rock both covers and originals. I played with them for roughly two years. I was in a band called Forcefed and that was original rock. Then was a full on 80’s hair metal tribute band called Machineface.
7. What made you decide this was something you just had to do, because it is a very hard business to be in these days?
LARISSA: I don’t think it was something I really “decided” to do lol. I had never been in a band before, never had written music… It was a night at karaoke that changed everything and the path I was on. Maybe it was fate? I continue to fight for our music because I truly believe we have something unique and special. These new songs are hands down the best lyrics/melodies I have ever written. I am determined to get them heard lol.
MIKE: When I was a kid I watched a guy walk into our class dressed like a rock and roll star carrying a guitar case and noticed all the attention he got lol. I knew instantly I had to do that! Discovered girls and that girls liked guitar players!
8. Do you ever regret for one minute that you started the band?
LARISSA: Regret? No. The only regrets I will ever have will come from if we don’t ever get that one chance to show everyone what we can do on a larger scale!
MIKE: No regrets.
9. I hope not, because you guys really need to be heard, to get your name out there, because I really believe that you have what it takes to succeed, the look, the musical side of it. It all fits together like a puzzle. What do you think would help you to get out to the people?
LARISSA: People sharing our music and the new video! Spreading it everywhere on all aspects of social media. Make it go viral!
I also feel if our team can use all the connections they have to get our music in front of the right people and get us opening for some bigger names we could finally showcase what we can do!
MIKE: A chance to be put in front of larger audiences! It’s a numbers game.
10. 9 years together, with some ups and some downs, do you think maybe with this new video “Heart Shaped Ashes” that this might just be the song that pushes you forward?
LARISSA: We have heard from a lot of people that this song could finally be the one that breaks. I love this song! So I sure hope so. This song means a lot to me and I’d love to see it be the one that finally launches us.
MIKE: I would sure like to hope so!
11. Every song tells a story, tell us what the story is for that song?
LARISSA: This song is about a past relationship of mine. How no matter how much you care, how much you love someone that certain people are only going to bring you heartache, pain and rip you apart on every level.
This song is me finally admitting and in many ways overcoming the damage it did to me. Like two sides of a coin. It has made be better in some ways, worse in others.
12. I was there the night you released your video at the Red Room, and was totally blown away by it, what an amazing song/video, tell us about the process, how long did it take, who came up with the amazing ideas, things that we might not know that happen while the process happens.
LARISSA: The video was directed and shot by Dave Benedict (Bass player for Default, Bonds of Mara). When I first spoke to Dave (after he listened to the song) I was adamant about what I didn’t want. Lol. I didn’t want a generic video with the band just standing there in a bare room performing to the camera or the band standing on a stage playing with a bunch of people rocking out in the audience. I wanted originality, more theatrical. I needed us to be different and stand apart from all the other Indie videos out there.
We went back and forward and we played off each others ideas and suggestions. It was Dave who finally came up with end story line. He saw a version of me as I am now and a version of me of what my emotions where back during this previous relationship. I was dark, broken…. The character (I nicknamed her “The Goddess”) was meant to represent the old me and what I was feeling back then. The Goddess is hunted down throughout the video by the band members who have all been beaten and broken by this entity. In the end she is destroyed and we are finally freed from her. Basically I let go of the person I was and the damage the past caused me.
Mike came up with the shattered glass idea for the end of the video and with the assistance of a co worker built the wooden frame and had the glass custom ordered for the shoot. We only had 2 shots to get it right lol. Mike also built the glass coffin I was laying it. It is just amazing and my favourite prop.
Dave got Ryan Moss (Stunt performer, actor and visual FX Artist) to help with making me turn to dust. Just amazing idea from Dave and killer work from him and Ryan! We also had Barry Nerling (Actor) help with all the amazing lighting and stunt work.
The video was shot in 1 day in our “haunted barn” in our back yard lol. It was supposed to be done shooting at 9pm but we didn’t wrap until 1:30am…..and it started raining in the last hour of the outdoor shots lol.
It was an unbelieveable experience! We cannot wait to shoot our next video with Dave and his team!
13.Do you think that at some point now that a full album will be in the works? (I hope so) I know that you are pretty happy with this video, so do you think if a new album is in the works you would once again work with Mike Plotnikoff?
LARISSA: We sure hope so! That is the plan. We are hoping our new music will get us some label interest and lead to a full album in the next year.
We love Mike Plotnikoff. He was so awesome to work with. He truly brought out the best in us all! I did things at that studio I never even knew I could do. He really made me feel comfortable, which for me is a huge thing! I get super nervous around people I admire (The same thing happened with Dave lol) So the way Mike got the very best out of me only made me wonder, what else can I accomplish with more time at his studio?
MIKE: Absolutely! Mike is the best producer I have ever worked with. He brought out things we didn’t even know we were possible.
14. For you what has been the best thing about being in Celestial Ruin?
LARISSA: The feeling I get on stage for sure. Its like nothing can touch me there. I feel the energy from the crowd and it’s like I’m free. Like I am where I belong. I feel whole.
I also love so many of the people we have gotten to meet throughout this insane journey.
MIKE: I met my wife. Lol.
15. If you were not in a band, for whatever reason, what do you think you would be doing?
LARISSA: I would still be pursuing musical theatre and acting. Or I’d work as a performer on a cruise ship….maybe audition to be a vocalist for Cirque Du Soleil.
MIKE: Music was always plan A there has never been a plan B
Now for just a few personal, maybe silly questions about Christmas:
Do you put up your tree early, or do you wait until the last minute?
LARISSA: My tree is up the weekend after Halloween lol.
MIKE: I always leave my shopping to the last possible second and unfortunately Christmas does not hold the same meaning to me anymore. It has all become to commercial.
What is it that would make you really happy for a gift?
LARISSA: A record deal with a huge signing bonus! Lol. I would also accept an all expenses paid trip to Disney World:)
MIKE: A real honest to god chance to show the world what we can do!
Did you stay home, or visit relatives over the holidays?
LARISSA: Mike and I are cooking dinner this year. I love cooking and baking. We have a very small family. My favourite Christmas’ are when the house is literally bursting at the seams! The last time we had a big Christmas was when we got back from tour 4 years ago. The whole band got together with all our family for dinner here at our house. It was great!
Are you vegan, or do you enjoy a good old good Turkey dinner?
LARISSA: TURKEY TURKEY TURKEY! Don’t get me wrong I am a HUGE animal rights person (all our house hold products, cosmetics and such are cruelty free) but we do eat meat. We prefer to buy free range and products that are humanly raised.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with us here at Metaltitans, we appreciate it. And you know we wish you all the success in the world.
To follow Celestial Ruin, here are some links:
MANAGER: Clyde Hill, Magnetized Productions